The lead-acid battery stores chemical energy and this energy is converted into electrical energy whenever requires. The conversion of energy from chemical to electrical is known as the charging. And when the electric power changes into chemical energy then it is known as discharging of the battery. During the charging process, the current passes inside the battery because of chemical changes. The lead-acid battery mainly uses two types of charging methods namely the constant voltage charging and constant current charging.
Constant voltage Charging
It is the most common method of charging the lead acid battery. It reduces the charging time and increases the capacity up to 20%. But this method reduces the efficiency by approximately 10%.
In this method, the charging voltage is kept constant throughout the charging process. The charging current is high in the beginning when the battery is in the discharge condition. The current is gradually dropping off as the battery picks up charge resulting in increase back emf.
The advantages of charging at constant voltage are that it allows cells with different capacities and at the different degree of discharge to be charges. The large charging current at the beginning of the charge is of relatively short duration and will not harm the cell.
At the end of the charge, the charging current drops to almost zero because the voltage of the battery becomes nearly equal to the voltage of the supply circuit.
Constant Current Charging
In this method of charging the batteries are connected in series so as to form groups and each group charges from the DC supply mains through loading rheostats. The number of charging in each group depends on the charging circuit voltage which should not be less than the 2.7 V per cell.
The charging current is kept constant throughout the charging period by reducing the resistance in the circuit as the battery voltage goes up. In order of avoiding excessive gassing or overheating, the charging may be carried out in two steps. An initial charging of approximately higher current and a finishing rate of low current.
In this method, the charge current is approximately one-eighth of its ampere ratings. The excess voltage of the supply circuit is absorbed in the series resistance. The groups of the battery to be charged should be so connected that the series resistance consumes as little energy as possible.
The current carrying capacity of series resistance should be greater than or equal to the required charging current otherwise, the resistance will overheat and burn out.
The group of batteries which is to be selected should have the same capacity. If the battery has a different capacity, then they will have to be set according to the least capacity.